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Children's Health Network

Children's Health Network
Minneapolis, Minnesota
612-813-7436
www.childrenshealthnetwork.org


Panner's Disease

What Is Panner's Disease?

Panner's disease happens from temporary changes in the capitellum. The capitellum is the outside bone of the elbow at the end of the upper arm bone (the humerus).

Healing can take time, but most kids with Panner's disease recover with no lasting problems.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Panner's Disease?

Panner's disease causes elbow pain around the outside part of the elbow. The pain usually gets worse with activity, such as throwing a ball, and becomes better with rest.

The elbow also may be stiff, swollen, and hurt to touch.

What Causes Panner's Disease?

Panner's disease is caused by stress on the capitellum and the surrounding cartilage. The stress is usually from repeated motions in sports, such as throwing in baseball or tumbling in gymnastics.

Diagram of bones of elbow. Humerus and capitellum are labeled. Arrow points to
            capitellum and says Panner's disease happens from temporary changes in the capitellum.

Who Gets Panner's Disease?

Panner's disease usually happens in kids who are:

  • early in their growth spurt (usually around 5–10 years old)
  • active in sports that use the arms a lot

How Is Panner's Disease Diagnosed?

To diagnose Panner's disease, health care providers:

  • ask about a child's physical activities, such as sports
  • do an exam, paying special attention to the elbow
  • do an X-ray of the elbow

Usually no other testing is needed. Sometimes an MRI is done to look at the bone in more detail.

How Is Panner's Disease Treated?

A child with Panner's disease needs to avoid all activities that cause pain so the bone can heal. This may mean taking a break from sports.

The health care provider may also recommend that your child: 

  • Put ice or a cold pack on the elbow every 1–2 hours for 15 minutes at a time. (Put a thin towel over the skin to protect it from the cold.)
  • Go for physical therapy to help with stretching and strengthening of the arm.
  • Take medicine for pain such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, or store brand) or acetaminophen (Tylenol or store brand). Follow the directions that come with the medicine on how much to give and how often to give it.

Sometimes, if the pain does not go away after a few weeks, a child may need to wear a cast or splint to keep the arm still during healing.

Can Kids With Panner's Disease Still Do Sports?

Kids with Panner's disease usually need to take a break from sports. When playing the sport no longer causes pain, they can try it again. This is usually only a few weeks, but sometimes can take months.

Looking Ahead

Bones are very good at healing and rebuilding, especially in children. Over time, the injury to the upper arm bone completely repairs itself. Most kids with Panner's disease have no problems after they heal. Very rarely, kids who had Panner's disease can have trouble straightening their arm all the way.

Reviewed by: Alvin Su, MD
Date reviewed: January 2019